KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) says African countries need to develop harmonised regional agricultural policies that promote investment in key resilient infrastructure to boost regional trade in agro-products.
The policies should also aim to mitigate climatic challenges.
COMESA climate change advisor Mclay Kanyangarara said strengthened regional integration measures that exceed national and sub-national borders hold a key role for overcoming Africa’s food import dependency and food insecurity challenges.
It is estimated that 70 percent of Africans are dependent on rain-fed agriculture, an activity that is characterised by small-scale, subsistence farms that are vulnerable to a variety of stresses, including those associated with climate change.
Speaking at a regional conference on climate change, agriculture and food security in Lusaka recently, Dr Kanyangarara said climate change impacts will increase agronomic complexity and risks of shocks at farm and community levels, thereby implying additional changes in crops and cropping patterns.
“In order to bridge the gap between climate change, agriculture and food security, there is need for development of deliberate policy on adoption of climate-smart agriculture.
“[This should include] development of harmonised regional agricultural policy as well as investment in robust infrastructure to boost regional trade in agricultural products,” he said.
Crop yields in most sub-Saharan African countries are estimated to fall by at least 10 to 20 percent by 2050.
Dr Kanyangarara said if the current emission scenarios continue, a two degree Celsius warming will drop agricultural yields of key food staples by up to 40 percent.
He however notes that with good and robust regional integration policies in place, climate shocks present an excellent opportunity for trade in the region between member states with surplus to COMESA members.
COMESA has supported its member states to adopt climate-smart agriculture as a tool to fight climate change, achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development.